During the Cultural Revolution (1966–1976), the Chinese Communist Party and the Chinese government designated seventeen theatre productions and music pieces as models for artistic and literary creations. Nine of these seventeen model works are jingju plays. With the primary task of creating heroic proletarian models, the nine jingju model plays are all set during the 1920s to the 1960s. From the 1950s through the 1970s, creators of jingju model plays found a primary challenge was how to portray modern characters with practices and techniques from traditional jingju; in response, they carried out comprehensive experiments in music, acting, directing, design, and playwriting. This paper offers an analysis of acting in jingju model plays at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Through examining the fusion of selectively adapted traditional practices and newly invented performance, the author argues that artistic choices and aesthetic qualities in jingju model plays deserve close attention. While constructing a new, national socialist culture in the PRC, the bittersweet feelings toward China’s feudal culture emerged via these complex manifestations of traditional practices in creating jingju model plays.


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pp. 360-389
Launched on MUSE
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